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Aesthetic interests and subject content, a study of teachers' perceptions of Swedish as a school subject

Conference contribution
Authors Katharina Dahlbäck
Published in NERA konferens 9-11 mars, Helsingfors
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Language en
Keywords aesthetic, education, sociosemiotic, communication, critical discourse analysis
Subject categories Educational Sciences


Different contents and aims have dominated the education in Swedish as a school subject. It has been regarded a subject for language skills, for learning by the use of the students' experiences and for knowledge about literature (Bergöö, 2005). Despite the fact that people are increasingly communicating by the use of a variety of modalities (Kress, 2003), teaching based on written language still could be said to dominate the discourse while other modes of expressions, like aesthetic modes, are marginalized. Hence, the study presented here aims at discussing views on the subject Swedish today, by six interviews revealing different perceptions of the subject with teachers in elementary school. What do teachers have in mind when they talk about the subject? What impact has the policy documents on their work? Also, in view of this, how do teachers present their opinions on their pupils' abilities to develop languages and communicate? The presentation is based on sociocultural (Vygotsky, 1999) and sociosemiotic multimodal perspectives (Kress, 2003; Jewitt, 2011) on learning. According to these theories literacy is context related and influenced by culture and society. Multimodal theories do not regard verbal and written language as the one and only starting point for representation and communication; multimodal approaches highlight the combination of a variety of channels for communication (music, fine arts, literature, theatre, film and dance) by which people create meaning and develop knowledge (Selander & Kress, 2010). Individuals are considered not only the users of these channels for communication but also the creators of them. Consequently learning implies increasing the opportunities for students to participate in and master the variety of social languages and codes offered to them by participation in different discourses – in fact, these opportunities could be regarded a democratic right for the students. To discuss the results of the study, critical discourse analysis is being used. The analysis shows how the teachers position themselves in a discourse of the subject Swedish where the students' opportunities to communicate by different modes become visible. By the interviews the teachers reveal difficulties and possibilities within their own school contexts. While discussing these prerequisities aesthetic modalities and preferences get special attention in the analysis.

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